The BJP on Friday whisked away the fourth Rajya Sabha seat from the Congress and JD(S) amid a ‘secular malfunction’ that saw both of them tussle for votes, which ended up giving the saffron party the edge.
Of the four Rajya Sabha seats that faced polls, the BJP won three and the Congress one.
With 46 votes each, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman got elected for her third Rajya Sabha term from the state, and senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh the fourth time. Actor-politician Jaggesh of the BJP will make his debut in the upper house of the Parliament with 44 votes.
The fight was for the fourth seat for which, despite not having numbers, all three parties had fielded candidates. Finally, the BJP’s third candidate Lahar Singh Siroya managed to snatch a victory against Congress’ Mansoor Ali Khan and D Kupendra Reddy of the JD(S).
The breakdown of the ‘secularism’ narrative that the Congress and JD(S) tried to spin for the Rajya Sabha election could have a lasting impact ahead of the 2023 Assembly election.
This was a real chance for the traditional rivals to join hands to defeat the BJP. Although both parties hurled the ‘secularism’ cause at each other, the Congress wanted all 32 JD(S) MLAs to cast ‘conscience votes’ for Mansoor. The JD(S) wanted Congress’ votes for Reddy. The JD(S) even asked for the Congress’ second-preference votes.
However, adversaries Siddaramaiah and H D Kumaraswamy refused to budge and no workable arrangement was done, allowing the BJP to bag the fourth seat.
On top of that, two JD(S) MLAs defied the party – Kolar MLA Srinivas Gowda voted for the Congress whereas Gubbi MLA S R Srinivas is suspected to have voted for the BJP.
‘Congress’ real colours have been exposed. The whole play was to help the BJP win. People of the state are watching this,’ an angry Kumaraswamy said. ‘I had requested a few Congress MLAs for second-preference votes. But, Congress leaders had decided not to give us second-preference votes at any cost,’ he said.